AP Was There: UNC tops Kansas for 1957 title in 3 OT, 54-53

Apr 3, 2022, 12:27 PM | Updated: Apr 4, 2022, 12:28 am

FILE - Wilt Chamberlain, Kansas' 7-foot basketball star, poses for a photo during a pause in practi...

FILE - Wilt Chamberlain, Kansas' 7-foot basketball star, poses for a photo during a pause in practice in Allen Field House in Lawrence, Kan., March 1, 1957. In the 1957 NCAA college championship, North Carolina defeated Chamberlain and Kansas in triple overtime. (AP Photo/William P. Straeter, File)

(AP Photo/William P. Straeter, File)

KANSAS CITY (AP) — The Associated Press is republishing verbatim the story of the North Carolina-Kansas NCAA men’s basketball championship game, as it was sent to the wire on the night of March 23, 1957.



Associated Press

Two free throws by calm Joe Quigg with six seconds remaining in the third overtime broke up a bitterly contested game and gave the North Carolina Tar Heels a 54-53 victory over Kansas and the NCAA major college basketball championship tonight.

The Tar Heels, extending their one-season record to 32 victories, wiped out a five-point deficit late in regulation play to send the game into the first overtime at 46-all.

The score stood 48-all after the first extra period as each team tallied a field goal and neither was able to count in a wild second overtime, marred by a mild tussle. Both coaches, Dick Harp of Kansas and Frank McGuire of North Carolina, came on the playing floor.

Play was interrupted almost a minute while tournament officials, assisted by policemen, restored order. No blows were exchanged, merely words.

Tommy Kearns, a 5-11 playmaker, opened the final overtime with a field goal from the side court. Kearns followed with two free throws to make it 52-48 for the Tar Heels before All-America Wilt Chamberlain of Kansas hit a short shot and was fouled on the play.

The 7-foot Wilt made his free throw to cut the handicap to 52-51.

Maurice King’s free throw tied the game at 52-52 and with 31 seconds left Gene Elstun scored another charity shot to edge Kansas ahead 53-52.

North Carolina called time out with 28 seconds left and the strategy paid off as King fouled Quigg with six seconds to go. Both of Quigg’s shots swished through the net for the clinching points.

Kansas had a one-shot chance at the basket but the ball hit the rim and bounced away as the final buzzer sounded.

The Tar Heels set some sort of a tournament record in using a total of six overtime sessions to win the championship. The nation’s No. 1 team needed three extra periods to beat Michigan State, 74-70, in the semi-finals last night.

North Carolina lost its great All-America soft shot artist, Lennie Rosenbluth, with 1:45 of the regulation game left when the Tar Heels trailed, 43-44.

Quigg was a clutch man in the drive to dissipate the Jayhawk five-point margin at that stage. He and Kearns teamed to send the game into the first overtime.

Chamberlain, who went all the way, was the leading scorer with 23 points. Rosenbluth had 20.

The flurry of bad feeling in the second overtime developed when Chamberlain and Pete Brennan of North Carolina jockeyed for position under the Kansas basket. Coach Harp said he moved toward the court to try to calm his players.

McGuire, who rushed to the Kansas bench, said he was shoved away by Jack Eskridge, Kansas assistant coach, and the brief but furious rhubarb was on.

Tempers flared briefly again in the third overtime but it ended quickly when Chamberlain and Kearns patted each on the back.

It was a ball-control test between the nation’s two top-ranked teams. North Carolina was rated first and Kansas second in The Associated Press poll at the close of the season.

North Carolina had a torrid shooting percentage of 64.7 the first half and wound up with a game average of 46.7 on 21 goals in 45 shots.

Kansas made 15 of 47 shots for 31.9 per cent. Coach McGuire praised Quigg, especially for retrieving the final rebound.

“He came through when we needed him,” McGuire said. “He has been a fine player for us all season.

“Our plans for the game went as we expected them, with a collapsing defense against Kansas’ great player, Chamberlain. We thought it worked very well.

“We feel very fortunate, and all I have to say is that all of our boys kept their poise even when in deep trouble. It was really remarkable that we won, with Lennie Rosenbluth on the bench, since he was our key man all season.”

Harp had this to say, “I think North Carolina is the No. 1 team in the nation. They had every chance to win and we had every chance to win and it took three overtimes to settle it.

‘Nobody has played us that tough on the boards. Not only were they tough on the boards, but when we did get the ball they harassed us so much we couldn’t do much with it.”


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AP Was There: UNC tops Kansas for 1957 title in 3 OT, 54-53